Friday, June 15, 2012

How Colic Hurt My Marriage, How God Heals It

My husband is mostly likely mystified as to why I'm suddenly craving romance so desperately at year eleven. Right after our anniversary date I started running around reading romance books, shedding tears while watching Fireproof on Netflix, lighting candles in the bath, research Catholic marriage sites on the internet, and praying for greater insight into my role as a wife.

Why the intense focus? Why the hidden panic?We're married!  We're best friends and Carmelite confidants. My husband isn't going anywhere.

It's just that my newborn's case of colic hurts me. And I feel alone in my hurt.

My husband Jon is kind and empathetic. My pediatrician (John with an "h") is also kind and empathetic. But they don't really "get it".

When little Abigail cries it hurts my heart. When I can't get her comfortable after hours and hours of trying, I start to despair. I can put her down and take a bath. I can leave the house to drink a coffee. Those things help me stay sane, but my heart still hurts. I know my baby is crying. When she sleeps through the night, I don't tell myself "we're finally lucky!" My first thought in the morning is "she must be dying!" I know that she's cried so hard in the past 48 hours, that she's exhausted herself into sleeping for 10 hours straight. This isn't the pattern of what normal newborns do.

I can't believe I'm thinking this, but I actual miss the NICU. I don't want Baby Abigail to be dying. I just miss the camaraderie. I miss the reassurance that other experts are watching this puzzling list of symptoms and trying problem solve. Right now it's so lonely. Its just me, staring at a newborn girl who is often red with rage, and has a hard belly, gives impressive man belches and has powerfully explosive poop. Baby Abigail's G.I track is clearly off--but what can I do about it?
My husband is right here with me. He's tired. And kind. And calm. Little Abigail's chronic crying doesn't effect him in the same way that it affects me. In my intellect, I'm grateful for that. Who wants two parents ready to jump off the same ledge? Instead, it's better for my husband to serve as the anchor for our family right now.

At the same time, as a wife, I am so lonely. Physically, my husband and I are in the same home. Emotionally, I feel ten thousand miles away. Alone on this cross, with this suffering baby who I can't succor, who I can't "fix"-I'm far away from everybody.

As fellow Carmelite, who has a son with autism, a far different and more difficult cross than mine posted this article on FB called Battling the Bitterness of Parenting a Disabled Child with this a beautiful paragraph

St. Augustine describes God as being "closer to me than I am to myself." Because He knows us intimately, He also comforts us that intimately. He fully enters our pain because, unlike most humans, He can fully handle its weight, emotion, and complexity. We can go to Him and be understood. And that is when our pain is eased. From Him, we gather strength to face another day. 

I'm in a place where I can't find understanding or refreshment with my husband. It's not because he's not trying to listen or he's not a great guy. This cross of having a colic child is so subtle, so maternal that I can't even share it with the other parent of my child.

In the middle of that horrible "aloneness" there is God. The only being that can truly hand the weight, emotion and complexity of my individual struggle with Baby Abigail.

When I let my husband off the hook. When I stop being mad that he "just doesn't get it." I have space to beg God --Help Me! Be There! Pick me up and make me feel better.


  1. I'm so sorry you're still going through the colic! I can completely relate. It was SO bad for six months straight. Unrelenting. The crying never stopped. Except for a couple hours every night when I dozed in and out of sleep while L was attached to me, nursing, and my whole body ached from the position I had to lay in. Otherwise, he was screaming the rest of the night/day. If it is her digestive system, our pediatrician told us it matures around five or six months, so it should let up then. It did with L and it should with your Chili Pepper too ;) You can do it! You're almost there! And until then, it sounds like you are learning and growing from this experience, which is more than I could say for myself ;)

  2. While I can't relate to the colic, I can relate to the feeling of handling something so differently form your spouse.

    The Man and I approach our IF as if it were 2 entirely different issues...I would do well to remember to lean on God rather than to get frustrated because he (The Man) just doesn't get it.

  3. This ideas sound unbelievably easy but they actually worked for us with our colicky first baby that almost killed us...

    Mylicon drops, have you tried it?
    Hope I am spelling correctly!

    Mylanta--yep, good old fashion mylanta. I think it was 1 ml in a a time.

    The Nap Nanny and/or a Sleep Positioner...our daughter simply could never, ever be put burned her throat/reflux to no end...

    Also, I formula feed...but eventually I found a "heavier" formula called RS RICE SENSITIVE and glory to God it helped keep the food/acid down.

    Our pediatrician said to add a bit of rice to her bottles but that would stop them up (and her too) we never did this...but we found this particular "heavier" formula and it did work. The only thing was it caused constipation every few days so we would then in turn have to do a prune juice treatment.

    Also, lying on the tummy (supervised of course) and the football hold...

    Finally, we "noticed" she didn't cry as much in the doctor's office and on our changing table....bizzare...then we put two and two together and figured out the BRIGHT overhead lights were distracting her somewhat...I almost installed flood lighting in my house as a result. But, seriously, when her bouts became so bad we put her on the changing table and turned on all the overhead lights...

    Also, seriously gave our baby 6 baths a day....I called it water therapy it was the only thing that calmed her down...

    I am sure this is not possible with your demands and other babies...but water--soaking in it--can calm them...

    Finally, as stupid as this sounds we also discovered that not only burping after feeding but burping a half hour AND hour after feeding was needed.

    In my own 'research' about colick it seems to me that the build up of gas, stimulation, indigestion, etc, etc, is what causes the full blown attacks.

    I hope these ideas help....

    Three years later I am STILL tired from my colicky infant.

    It drains like nothing else.

  4. MaNy hugs and prayers as you continue to deal with this! Thank you for sharing this post, I needed to read it as I feel similar in my different situation. My problem (one of, anyway, lol) is that I am so impatient with God - and I want Him to make me FEEL better. I have trouble knowing He's there when I feel nothing. I remind myself it's not about feelings, but I can't shake it.

    I'm sure someone has suggested this to you already about the colic, but have you tried messing with your diet? I had several colicky babies - turns out 3 have full blown IgE allergies to different things (eggs, dairy, peanuts) and the other two had sensitivities to other things in my diet - chocolate, citrus, etc. They were ALL pretty miserable until I realized just what it was with each one that "did the trick" and then I'd take those foods out of my diet as much as possible. It was a pain (and made me lonely in a whole different way!) but at least the kids felt better.

  5. I just wanted to add I am so sorry that Colick is robbing you of your babyhood with sweet Abigail.

    By little dude has some gas issues, but not full blown colick and it just is so much better...we even went for a walk today by ourselves something I NEVER could do with Baby #1 because she couldn't sit in a chair or her carseat...or leave the house longer than 10 minutes.

    And, life is so much better so much more WHOLE.

    I am so sorry...that's what I want to say...not just "give advice" but say from the bottom of my heart, I know how painful colick is and how sorry I am that Abigail has it...because in SO MANY ways it hurts, hurts the Mom, the Dad, the whole family unit...and I think people tend not to empathize enough about this condition and they just expect Moms/Parents to look ahead to when the baby outgrows it...but, the suffering is THERE...and actually can have an impact long after the baby's digestion system improves and or matures.

    I feel like I am still dealing with the effects of colick and my daughter is almost 3! It changed the dynamic in our family in so many ways (that I clearly now see having a non-colicky baby) how things would have been different.

    Especially between the spouses and for the mother's nervous system!

    So, I want to say to you...I am sorry you are going through the heart ache of having a colicky baby....

    I truly believe it is a very painful cross.

    And, I can't stand how people minimize it.

    It hurts. BIG TIME.

  6. What an amazing couple of posts ~following your previous post, sounds as if as you are learning to demonstrate your respect for your husband perhaps there are ways he could be better 'loving' you during this time of pain and stress.

    Will pray that her colic improves soon.

  7. If it's that bad, you might want to consider a chiropractor for the colic. The Amish in our area swear by it.

  8. Abigail, I so appreciate your honesty and your desire to not expect your husband to give what no human spouse ever could. I wish I had been that wise when we had a terribly colicky baby (#1). We never found anything that worked for him, but we didn't have access to many resources at that time. A later baby of ours had colic too, and we were able to ameliorate it with cranio-sacral therapy, homeopathy, and intense swinging with a baby hammock called the Happy Hang-up (it swings on an enormous spring and could safely sail across the living room--it was really intense, but it helped a lot). The linked article was very meaningful to me, too. Thank you, and I will pray for you and your baby.